Have you read or finished Present Over Perfect yet? If you haven't grabbed a copy of this book, PLEASE do yourself a favor and fix that. I was screen-shotting and typing out ginormous passages, texting them to my friends and family every other day while reading this. The chapters are all heavily underlined, and so many of the words are forever imprinted on my brain because honestly, being present is something the Lord is earnestly trying to teach me.
I had a massive break down last month; desperately feeling alone, seeking words of affirmation from family members and really feeling as though on so many levels, I just wasn't connecting. I was getting overly discouraged when Instagram posts weren't doing as well as others have in the past [like, how did I ever get 3k likes on ONE photo? That will NEVER happen again!] And that sentence and realization RIGHT there, is what this post is all about. Whose likes matter? Why do they matter? What is the POINT of social media? There are so many different lessons I want to tie in to what I'm trying to say, but I'll try to take it slow so that I don't completely overwhelm (or bore) you.
In a podcast listening to Lara Casey share her story [another author I highly encourage you to get familiar with!] she encouraged her listeners to STOP searching. She said, "Imagine your followers to be real life people, because they ARE, and imagine them being at your dining room table. If you even have ten followers, ten people, that's actually a LOT of people to be hosting in your home. So it's not necessarily a good thing trying to find MORE followers, more people who aren't presently with you in this season, because then you are distracted and not pouring in to the people who ARE at your side." That may have been terribly paraphrased, but her point was to be content with the people in your life, and to check yourself to see how you are trying to invest in THEM. With 13k followers, that's a crap ton of people; people who wouldn't actually FIT inside my home or at our dinner table--but that is thousands of people I get to semi interact with and influence with my words via Instagram. Do all 13k SEE my posts? No, of course not. But many do! So what message do I want to share with them? And beyond that, with 13k followers, how many do I ACTUALLY have a real, meaningful relationship with? How many of us can say that we have one at all? You can have hundreds of THOUSANDS, millions even, of quote on quote followers--but are they who at the end of the day, matter?
Going back to Shauna Niequist's book, she has an entire chapter dedicated to "It's All Right Here." Let me share with you my most convicting points (pages 110-114):
- -Making someone feel loved in an instant is SO much easier than showering someone your love OVER AND OVER, day in and day out.
- -It feels good to be good at something, to master something, to control something when marriage and intimacy often feel profoundly OUT of our control.
- -Little by little, we tiptoe away.
- -The distance seems to always create space for another person, and then there's a whole new level of pain and violation. [YES, because this has happened TO ME]
- -When things are hard and painful and barbed at home, what a LOVELY thing it is to be loved at your work, right? What a lovely and DANGEROUS thing.
- -It's EASY to be liked by STRANGERS. It's very HARD to be loved and connected to the people in your home when you're always bringing them your most exhausted self and resenting the fact that the scraps you're giving them isn't cutting it.
- -It is better to be LOVED than admired. It is better to be truly KNOWN and seen and taken CARE of by a small tribe than adored by STRANGERS who think they know you in a meaningful way.
- -People out THERE are easier than the ones in here.
- -It's ALL in here, NOT out there.
I'm here to tell you as a person with thousands of followers [and embarrassingly enough, as an "Influencer" this does not necessarily *sound* like a large number to me]; it doesn't matter, because you can and will still feel lonely. In another podcast listening to Dale Partridge talk with a Pastor, the Pastor said something along the lines of, "No matter the number, your feelings will still be the same." He said he had always imagined that when his church got to 500 members, that would be it, and he would feel like he had arrived. And he now has a church with over 40,000 people attending his different churches each week. The same goes for many of us in our 'following.' [If you can't relate, bless you, but perhaps you still do with feeling fully loved and cherished inside your own walls.] I LITERALLY remember 10k being "the magic number" on Instagram. "Oh once you hit 10k, big things will start happening," I was told. Well, let me let YOU in on a little secret. That's not exactly true. "Maybe when I hit 15k?" I've thought. Or 20k? But honestly, I follow a LOT of 'mommy bloggers' and women who have an incredibly large following, and do you know what I hear as the common thread?
That they can still be lonely. That they can still spend too much time on social media, that they often fall short of comparing themselves to other, to doubting whether or not they should just walk away, and so many other similar thoughts that I, a woman with 13k followers, have as well. Why?
Because our love is not OUT there.
Because our tribe is INTERNAL.
Because the ones who not only KNOW us but LOVE us, are sitting AT our table.
Because the children we are rolling around with on the floor, and the husband we hold hands with on the couch--they, are who matters.
Sometimes this realization is scary. I've had lots of doubts about posting, sharing, writing, conversing. But a quote from Shauna sums my heart up so well, and I am guessing yours too:
"Sometimes brave is being quiet. Being brave is getting off the drug of performance. For me, being brave is trusting that what my God is asking of me, what my family and community is asking from me, is TOTALLY different than what our culture says I should do. Sometimes, brave looks boring, and that's totally, absolutely, okay" (126).
"...Getting off the drug of performance," yes. Do I need to post a picture every day to be loved? Maybe, to be admired. But deep down I know that relationships are not virtual; they are physical. I love the groups I'm a part of on threads on Instagram. I've gotten close with women in Colorado, California, Illinois, Canada, Oregon, North Carolina, and SO many different states. I'm thankful for them and I long to one day create an IG meet-up! But these relationships are not ENOUGH to BE enough. Do not second guess yourself because of your social media presence, do not doubt your identity based on the thoughts, moods, and opinions of others.
It is better to be LOVED than admired. And friends?
You already are.